Gone Rogue Boutique Arrows- Why Arrows?
Arrows are a funny thing. It was no accident that an arrow ended up in my boutique logo. When I started this boutique just over two years ago, I already had a vision in mind of how I was going to show the world who I was through this new avenue of expression.
I grew up in small town America. It was a small, predominantly white, conservative farming town of less than 600 at the time. I was raised most of my life by both my parents and my grandfather who lived with us. We were Catholic so a large part of my childhood was attending Mass and Catechism classes and volunteering at the church. I had siblings and we had free roam of the 10 acres we lived on. It sounds like it should be the idyllic childhood.
But even in a small town the gap between the rich and the poor was gaping and I became acutely aware I was on the "wrong" side. Families that had been there through multiple generations were less than accepting of us second generation families and many new families were run out of town completely. When Hispanic families started moving to town to work the farms, I had my first taste of what racism looked like.
I was bullied relentlessly at school. My parents fought, horrible fights, and when they finally divorced, my mom was ostracized by the church and the community. I was often left in charge of my siblings while my mom worked. When I was in high school I ran away from home to try to escape what had become my life.
Fast forward to adult hood and its no surprise that I was battling serious mental health issues, survived an abusive marriage and started raising my first child at 19. But I left the church and left that small town to search for a better life.
And I found that life, through my own therapy and through work in advocacy and peer support. My most recent role was as a Community Health Worker for a hospital system here in Eugene, just 45 minutes from the small town I was raised in. My job was to work with patients who had been identified as high utilizers of the emergency room and inpatient psych. The goal was to help patients from marginalized communities access and learn to manage their healthcare as well as access other resources in the community that could help them achieve some stability. This was where I first became acutely aware of a larger system of oppression at work and often found myself directly at odds with the system I was employed by in my efforts to advocate for patients.
When I started the boutique two years ago, I had become very ill. Working in a hospital under constant stress had taken its toll over the years and every time I got sick with even just a minor cold, it would last longer and longer. The boutique started as a side gig, since I was still working at the hospital at the time but I soon realized that the trauma I was experiencing through my job had taken its toll. I put myself back in therapy and I left my job at the hospital in an effort to heal both mentally and physically.
The goal of the boutique was to surround myself with beautiful things. Simple things. Things where people weren't going to die if wrong choices were made. No one was going to die if a candle they wanted was out of stock or if I couldn't order a dress in their size. The simplicity of it was gentle on my spirit and I found comfort in the change of pace. But the activist in me wasn't going to stay quiet for long and now I find myself here two years later looking for ways to continue to contribute to the changes society needs to make.
So that brings me back to the arrow. The flowers around the arrow represent beauty and hope, but the arrow is my direction. Always pointed forward, always moving me forward. Sometimes my arrow misses the mark, but I can always count on it to move me forward. Through personal growth I have learned to guide that arrow in a better direction and maybe hit the target more often, but I am always acutely aware of the external forces that would deter its path. Gone Rogue represents the fighter in me that is never satisfied with the status quo. Gone Rogue represents the importance of seeing the value in other people whatever their struggles may be. Gone Rogue represents my desire to make "Rogue" a beautiful thing to be. This boutique is my small way of continuing my own personal healing journey and amplifying the voices of people who want change.